Martin Rowe has steadily increased his lead in the Production Car World Rally Championship [PCWRC] in his Subaru Impreza WRX STI as the second day of Rally of Australia drew to a close.

Rowe and co-driver Trevor Agnew are 29.5 seconds ahead of Irishman Niall McShea, who is second, while 1984 World Champion Stig Blomqvist is in fourth place in another Impreza WRX STI.

While winning the penultimate round of the championship will give him the lead in the series, Rowe is not looking that far ahead: "The final day's stages are tough. We can't take anything for granted yet."

Rowe said he had been driving at his own pace and was not too concerned with what his rivals were doing: "We just want to get a good result and some more points in the championship."

The day started sensationally with overnight leader Marco Ligato not able to continue after his car broke a drive shaft and spun across the finish line of Friday night's super stage.

That gave Rowe a 20.3 second lead over McShea.

Most of the focus during the stages through the Helena Forest was on the progress of Toshi Arai. After a frustrating first leg, Arai had his Subaru Production Rally Team Impreza WRX STI running on full song after a turbocharger change at the final service on Friday night.

On the day's first three stages Arai was fastest on two and second fastest on the other. "We wanted to push harder and close the gap on Martin," said Arai.

After starting the day 8.7 seconds behind defending champion Karamjit Singh, Arai had soon overtaken him and moved into third place and closed to within 9.1 seconds of second placed McShea.

Unfortunately the charge back up the leaderboard was not to last and in the Helena South stage Arai was forced out of the event with a drive-line problem.

"I was changing from fourth to fifth gear," said Arai. "Then there was nothing.

"It's very disappointing. The team had worked hard to get the car running right and we were starting to get into the swing of things. Now we have to win Corsica to have a chance at the title."